Dr. Melissa Finke of TVV Decatur reports...
Over the years we have seen significant advancements in veterinary dentistry. This has lead to better diagnostics and treatment for dental disease resulting healthier, longer lives for our dogs and cats. One of the most important newer diagnostics has been dental x-rays.
In order to understand the importance of dental x-rays, it is necessary to realize that 2/3 of the teeth are below the gum line. In some cases, the visible portion of the tooth or gingiva (gum tissue) may give us a clue that there is a problem. However x-rays are required in order for us to understand the exact nature or extent of the problem and determine the best possible treatment.
For instance, a small fracture of a tooth may not appear to be causing any problems. But x-rays often reveal secondary abscesses at the root. Swelling of the face can also indicate a tooth root abscess but can be a symptom of a tumor. X-rays may be helpful to differentiate these diseases. And missing teeth can be an indication of impacted teeth. Over time these impacted teeth can result in destruction to the jaw bone. This diagnosis could not be made without x-rays.
Dental x-rays may also be utilized prior to extracting teeth in order to predict any complications that may arise during extraction. They can also determine if teeth were completely removed following extractions. Dental x-rays in dogs and cats are similar to those performed in humans, but because of precise positioning and the need to place equipment in the mouth, anesthesia is required. With the development of digital x-rays, radiation exposure is kept to a minimum.